I was lucky enough to be invited to The Body Shop in Eldon Square, Newcastle where I was allowed to smell, feel and basically bathe in the deliciousness of their new products. I was looked after by Austin, who treated me to a hand massage, eye makeover and insight into all of the goodies in store. The shop itself really is gorgeous. It feels different to the days when you'd pop in after school for their notorious coco butter, strawberry shampoo and white musk body spray. It feels like the adult version of its former self. The transition from Emma Watson as the teacher's pet in Harry Potter to a beautiful British actress, model and activist. What I'm saying is, they've grown up gracefully.
The Body Shop has never been a follower of the trends. You won't find contour sticks or lip kits on their shelves. But that's why I love them. They do what they do nicely, quietly but effectively. And the same ethics they've always had when it comes to cruelty-free products have been taken up a notch. With many - if not most - of their ingredients now being 100% vegan.
So, onto the good stuff.
Austin talked me through their new toners, face masks and foundation. Their Chinese Ginseng & Rice Clarifying Milky Toner is 100% vegan and great for gently exfoliating and tightening the pores. I'll admit I've neglected using toner over the past year after a bad experience with one that my skin just didn't enjoy. I should mention that I have sensitive skin that's prone to oiliness, dryness and redness. It's easily offended and knows what it likes. I'm always a little wary of trying new products, but often can't help myself as I'm a real cosmetics fanatic.
I've got to tell you though, this toner is an absolute treat. I used it at nighttime after my usual cleanser and before my moisturiser. With a new product, I frequently wake up with a really oily T-zone and irritation in areas that are prone to breakouts. But when I got up the next morning, my skin was soft, brightened and my complexion looked more even than it has in ages. The hydration from this toner - that my skin so desperately craves - comes from organic Community Trade sesame seed oil. It's formulated without alcohol and I have used it ever morning and evening ever since. I was given a sample of the Chinese Ginseng & Rice Clarifying Polishing Mask which I am dying to try. I'll update you when I have. But I am almost afraid at how gloriously glowing my skin is going to look with the two combined.
The new British Rose Petal-Soft Gel Toner is almost too gorgeous to open. Enriched with real rose petals that you can see within its golden liquid and organic Community Trade aloe vera from Mexico. The British Rose range is perfect for thirsty skin, acting to help its water reserve to plump and hydrate. 100% vegan, alcohol-free and extra gentle, this toner leaves skin feeling soft, soothed and replenished.
The brand new range of The Body Shop face masks are filled with an assortment of sumptuous ingredients and skin solutions. I was talked through each one in turn for different skin concerns.
The Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing Mask is 100% vegan and contains x130 more detoxifying properties than green tea! It contains dandelion extract to give protection from pollution and premature ageing caused from environmental damage. Gently exfoliating with apricot kernels, it removes any build up. Aloe vera soothes the skin and there are no silicones or mineral oils in sight. Your skin will be very grateful.
The Amazonian Acai Energising Radiance Mask contains a high level of caffeine, reducing fatigue and invigorating sleepy skin. It contains a bouncy blend of acai berry, guarana and babassu oil and is formulated without parabens, paraffin, silicone or mineral oil.
The bestselling Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask works wonders for those of us with oily and combination skin. This mask contains purifying, antibacterial properties and draws out impurities to refine the appearance of pores. Again 100% vegan, this tingling clay mask is infused with bamboo charcoal, green tea leaves and organic tea tree oil from Kenya. It gets some serious love on the website and Instagram, with the general consensus calling it a skin transformer.
The British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask is intended to replenish skin with moisture, visibly smooth and give you a youthful, dewy glow. As with its toner counterpart, this 100% vegan refreshing gel face mask is infused with real rose petals, rose essence, rosehip oil and organic Community Trade aloe vera.
The Chinese Ginseng & Rice Clarifying Polishing Mask is blended with ginseng and rice extracts alongside sesame seed oil. 100% vegetarian, it's a creamy exfoliating mask, that reveals brighter-looking, even and supple feeling skin. Use before the Chinese Ginseng & Rice toner for ultimate smooth, rested and radiant skin.
This one is a real treat. The Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Night Mask is infused with that little wonder salicylic acid, great for oily skin and reducing the size and number of imperfections. Over time it will improve the appearance of pores and helps maintain clearer-looking skin. Put on before bed, it won't stain your pillows and will stay put all night. If you've got dry skin, don't be put off. Simply apply a light moisturiser underneath. I was a little scared of sleeping with a new product on my face. Thinking I might wake up with soreness, redness or oiliness. But instead, I woke up with my stubborn, recurring blemishes visibly improved and smoother, even-toned, mattified skin. A little of this goes a long way and it's a little miracle in a tub. I will definitely be purchasing the full size tub of this mask.
I couldn't resist getting my paws on the new Banana Truly Nourishing Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair Mask. Trust me, you'll give that stuff one sniff and add it to your basket instantly. My hair suffers from heat damage, over-styling and split ends due to its coarse, unruly nature. So a shampoo and conditioner that contains a nourishing blend of ingredients and formulated without silicones and mineral oil, is right up my hair's street. This 100% vegan range will make your hair feel stronger and instantly nourished from root to tip. The mask should be applied as a weekly ritual to feed your hair and leave it smelling good enough to eat.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to sample the new Matte Clay Skin Clarifying Foundation which sounds like it would be a lovely addition to my make-up collection. 100% vegan, ghassoul clay mattifies the skin leaving it smooth and fresh. It's non-pore clogging and contains tea tree to help fight blemishes while wearing. Lightweight and breathable, this foundation can also be applied for a long-lasting, breathable full coverage. Containing oil absorbing properties and available in a range of shades, I'll be back for this.
I also sampled the Spa of the World™ Ethiopian Green Coffee Cream which smells incredible and feels even better. It's hand-harvested from the beautiful Kaffa region, known around the world as ‘the home of coffee’ and helps skin feel firmer and smoother. Light green in colour and lightweight, it absorbs instantly and leaves skin with a healthy glow with none of the greasiness or stickiness. 100% vegan and enriched with Ethiopian green coffee and Community Trade olive oil from Italy, this body cream is a real pleasure to use.
Finally, if you never considered The Body Shop as a make-up destination - do so. I was nervous about my eye makeover as I like a really subtle eye and have been known to get the makeup wipes straight on my face after any makeovers. You know that moment when they bring the mirror up to your face so you can see the finished result? Well, this is the first time I haven't had to lie! Austin did a lush job. A really lovely golden eye with a touch of earthy browns, subtle smoke and the perfect feline flick. I couldn't resist but put a quad palette together. Even the eye shadows are packed with natural goodness. Enriched with Community Trade babassu oil, sesame oil and marula oil. They are long-lasting, high purity, pigmented and can be bought alone or mixed and matched to create your customisable palette.
I chose: 105 Giza Stone - a light gold with subtle glimmer, 130 Atacama Desert - a warm orange that is a dream alongside earthy browns, 230 Amazonian Earth - a deep dark brown, great for adding depth and smoke, and 205 Sienna Dust - a light sandy brown with shimmer.
Next time you're passing The Body Shop, pop in for a bespoke skin consultation and mask-over to find the perfect exfoliator or face mask for you. Priced between £12-£16 for 75ml, these soul-soothing, skin-transforming products are worth every penny.
Let me know which mask you choose!